Music Mondays- Redeemer by Nicole Mullen

As I interact with other cultures and people from various religions, I realize there are teachings for living a good life in each religion. What is distinctive about Christianity?

What makes Christianity stand out is the person we worship and follow our Lord Jesus Christ. When Jesus asked Peter, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter’s response of, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” prompted Jesus to say to him the flesh and blood had not revealed it to him. In other words, God had revealed to Peter that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, the promised one.

What makes Christianity unique is the person Jesus. In Jesus we have the only person who has been resurrected from the dead. He defeated death for us.

When Job said I know my redeemer lives, he spoke those words in the midst of severe trials in this life. He suffered great loss and yet he spoke the words, I know my redeemer lives. His hope was not in this life. His hope was in the fact that he knew his redeemer lives.

Jesus said that in this life we will have many troubles but to cheer up because he has overcome the world. Whether it is a sickness-autoimmune for me, financial struggles, loss of loved ones, bullying, violence around us, whatever the problem is, our hope is not in this life. It would be terribly sad if we could only look for hope in this life that is so short and full of problems.

Our hope is in Jesus and his resurrection. Our hope is that there is a eternal home waiting for us, and that Jesus is with us in this life. He has promised that he will never leave us or forsake us. Our Redeemer lives. 🙂

So on this Music Monday I would like to share Nicole Mullen’s song Redeemer. I hope you experience Christ’s presence as you listen and that your Monday is blessed. 🙂

Also if you want to check out more of Nicole Mullen’s music her website is nicolecmullen.com

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Just Passing Through Hoping to Bring People Along

When I teach my classes and they ask me how old I am, my age is on a sliding scale. Whatever the age of my youngest student is, that is my age for that class. For example, in one of my evenings classes I have two young women who are 19 years old, so I say I am 19 too.

Here is a picture of me at the zoo.

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I tell my students I color my hair white to look like a teacher and this is a picture of me in disguise.

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For some reason my students don’t seem to believe me. 🙂

Whatever I look like in this life doesn’t really matter. This life is temporary. Our bodies in this world are ones that will get old and eventually die of something. If this life and how we look is all we have to go on, it is depressing.

But there is much more than this life. I love the way Paul teaches about it in 2 Corinthians chapter 4:

“16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

I have a certain milestone birthday coming up and it has me thinking about the fact that this life is so short, but there is so much more in store for us in heaven. We are promised resurrection bodies because of what Jesus did for us. We are all foreigners and strangers looking forward to a heavenly home like Hebrews 11 talks about.

Yes this life is short and is nothing compared to what can be in our eternal future if we come to Jesus. But this life is important to me in the sense that I want other people to enjoy that resurrection body too. As I get older and have battled autoimmune, I think more about what Paul said about absent from the body, home with the Lord but that being here means more fruitful ministry. There are days I wish Jesus would take me home to heaven, but there are refugees and immigrants who need help, need to hear about Jesus, and need someone to pray for them.

So I am just passing through in this life and hoping to bring people with me to that heavenly home.

I just hope the resurrection body for me will be more like the first picture not the second one. 🙂

Soccer is in the bible? An Attention Getter for Young People

Something innate in me is the fact that I enjoy clowning around a bit. When I walk into a coffee shop and see someone reading a bible, I like to walk over and say. “I read that book and Jesus wins in the end” and then apologize for giving away the ending. I am the guy who laughed with my students when they gave me a cookbook for kids telling me maybe it could help my cooking.

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When I talk with young people, sometimes I like to get their attention by asking them if they knew that soccer is in the bible. They look at me like I am crazy or like they are wondering what planet I am from. I tell them I can prove it and show them Philippians 3:14 where Paul says “I press on to the goal”. After the person moans at the bad joke or rolls their eyes, I have their attention to what I really want to point out.

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That our goal is to know Jesus and the power of his resurrection. A little levity can open up a good conversation. But the message is no joke. We can know Jesus. We can share in his suffering and his resurrection. In soccer they work together to press on through the length of the soccer field to score a goal. As Christians we can work together to help each other in our life long goal of knowing Jesus and experiencing the power of his resurrection in our lives. The power that can lift us up in life. Yes there are ups and downs in life as Christ followers and it isn’t easy at times, but it is SO WORTH it.

Living for Jesus is no joke and it is not easy at times, but we don’t have to be boring stiffs about it. We can smile along the way and have some fun along the way.

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Yes I know I need to trim my beard. Maybe I should shave it for the summer. I haven’t decided. Not sure.

Anyway, hope you have a blessed weekend. I hope to even though it will be wintry here.

God Bless and thanks for reading.

Jesus Appearing to Mary Magdalene Gives Me Hope

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When I think about the appearances of Jesus after his resurrection, the one that gives me the most hope is when Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene. That might sound strange coming from a man, but for me it is not a man/woman thing. It is an outcast being honored thing.

The first person to do something is the one we remember. Who was the first person to walk on the moon? Most people would be able to say Neil Armstrong. Who was the second? think, scratch our heads- Buzz Aldrin was but his name does not come so readily if at all. Who was the first President of the U.S.? That should be easy- George Washington. Who was the second? Wait not a history buff!!!  answer John Adams.

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I know Paul wrote that Jesus appeared first to Peter, but that is easily explained. In those days only men could testify in court. Sad but true. When we read one of the time Jesus fed thousands it says- The number was about 5,000 men besides women and children. They only counted the men UGH. Furthermore, Paul was focusing on the apostles in 1st Corinthians and concludes with himself.

However, the first PERSON Jesus appeared to was Mary Magdalene. We know Jesus delivered her from seven evil spirits but we don’t really know anything else about her before Jesus came into her life. However, it is safe to conclude that she would have been an outcast of some kind. After Jesus delivered her, she was welcomed into the group even hanging out with Mary the mother of Jesus.

Jesus did NOTHING by ACCIDENT. Every act was intentional on his part. He could have chosen to appear first to anyone he chose, but he chose to appear to Mary Magdalene. This gives me hope because I identify with her more than the apostles. The reason is because my life before Jesus I was an outcast. I was the alcoholic’s son. I was the teen who got into trouble acting out in reaction to an alcoholic father and mentally ill mother. I was the cold-hearted salesman in my twenties. When I first started going to church and trying to pray to Jesus, my prayers would start with something like- “Lord I am a jerk”

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Jesus appeared first to his follower who was the lowliest before Jesus and when he said her name after his resurrection, she recognized him. It would like if today he appeared to someone, it would be the person who is an alcoholic, a person who struggles with depression/anxiety, a person who struggles with an eating disorder, a person who- you can fill in the blank. He gave her the job of going to tell the men. There is a message in that. I hope to meet Mary Magdalene in heaven and learn more about her. For now, I just feel blessed and filled with hope that Jesus cares for the lowliest people like me and can turn our lives around.

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Visits by Jesus After His Resurrection- What About Mary His Mother?

This is something I shared five yeas ago before the Celiacs foggy brain thing. I wanted to share it again because it is about someone I admire- Mary the Mother of Jesus.

One of the mysteries in the bible for me is what happened when Jesus came to visit His mother Mary. She is not listed in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as being present during his visits after His resurrection. Surely He must have appeared to Mary His mother. She was there when He was crucified. She was there when He was buried. She had been with Him throughout His life as we see various times after His birth that she was with Him such as at the wedding in Cana. I wonder what happened when He came to her.

Think about her life for a moment. She was a young virgin when an angel appeared to her and said, “Hail Highly Favored One…..” and told her she had been chosen by God to give birth to the Savior of the world. She said yes to God’s plan. She gave birth to Him in a stable of animals and then had to flee to Egypt because Herod wanted to kill the baby Jesus. She raised Him and cared for Him like no one else ever will. She saw His miracles and was even there for His first public miracle of turning water into wine. In fact she kind of instigated it. Then she is there during His passion and watches Him die on the cross before her eyes. She helped to prepare His body for burial. So why is there no mention of Mary the mother of Jesus during His visits after the resurrection.

While I would not make a claim to know for sure or teach this as a doctrine, it is my thought that Jesus’ first visit with His mother Mary was so highly personal and emotional for Mary that the Holy Spirit did not have it recorded. I have often heard it expressed that God is a gentleman meaning He is polite and considerate. While God does record the failings of Peter and the other disciples, there are certain things left unwritten such as the exact nature of Mary Magdaline’s life before Jesus healed her of demon possession. I believe that the moment Jesus first came to see His mother after His resurrection was so personal and emotional for her and out of respect for that moment it was kept private.

There is something in the bible that convinces me that Jesus must have visited Mary after His resurrection. Mary was with the disciples in the upper room when the promise of the Father came upon them. When the Holy Spirit was sent to those who were waiting, Mary was there with them.  In the bible she may fade from the scene as the focus of the story shifts to what the apostles did as they started the church, but she was there when the Holy Spirit came signaling that she still has a role. She is one person I look forward to meeting one day when Jesus calls me home. I would love to hear the story from her 🙂

 

Music Mondays- What A Beautiful Name By Brooke Ligertwood

First of all I want to thank those of you who are following my blog. In recent weeks my followers have grown to now over 50. That may not sound like a big deal for bloggers with a large following, but after the previous four to five years of living with Celiacs symptoms, one of which is foggy brain which shut down my creative side, to get back to this blog means a lot to me and so do those who follow me. SO THANK YOU!!!

Music has helped me through so many ups and downs in life. Last year was one of those times of mostly downs in my life as I went from doctor to doctor to find out what was wrong. I have had other periods in my life when worship music really helped me to keep my focus on God through the dark times in life. There have also been numerous times that God has guided me or shown me something as I have had my times of prayer, coming into his presence.

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So I wanted to start doing Music Mondays for a way to share songs that have meant a lot to me. The songs might be worship songs, Christian music or secular, just me sharing something that has meant something to me in hopes it lifts you up on a Monday. Who doesn’t need a pick me up on a Monday?

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If I share a link for a video, it will only be from the musicians website, from youtube via their website or ministry’s website, or VEVO on youtube.

The first song I want to share is one that perhaps many of you have heard. It is a song that is very fitting for this season of having just celebrated Easter. The song is ‘What A Beautiful Name It Is’ written and performed by Brooke Ligertwood of Hillsong.

When people are dying, they express what is on their hearts. I remember a friend from Korea who had cancer. I met with him to pray several times during the last four months of his earthly life. Each time he shared with me that he was no concerned about himself, but he was very concerned about what would happen to his wife and three young children.

In John 17 the prayer of Jesus before his arrest and subsequent trial, suffering and crucifixion is recorded. Jesus is praying to the Father. Jesus knew his impending suffering was about to begin. In his prayer we see what was on his heart. Jesus prayed in John 17:24- “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am,and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” Jesus himself said that he wanted us in heaven.

There is a wonderful line in the song “What A Beautiful Name’ that goes, ‘You didn’t want heaven without us, so Jesus you brought heaven down’. Jesus wants us to be in heaven with him, so he came to show us God the Father, teach us about God, and in fulfilling his mission to die for our sins and defeat death for us all because he wanted us to be able to be in heaven with him.

Think about it, Jesus WANTS you and me to be in heaven with him. He wants to share heaven with us. Last year as I went through a year of pain, doubt, confusion, and stress of many doctor appointments and tests, that thought helped me to not go down the spiral staircase of despair. That is why this first Music Monday I want to share this song with you. I hope it blesses you as much or more than it has blessed and continues to bless me.

I would love to to know what songs lift you up or what picks you up on a Monday.

Easter- Jesus Is Alive.

It is Easter Sunday, my favorite Sunday of the year. Why? Because the resurrection of Jesus means that his death for us did indeed accomplish what Jesus set out to do which is to die for all of our sins. Jesus took death and wadded it up like a piece of paper. Death had no power over Jesus. He is alive forevermore and he wants to share that with us!!!!

I am posting this on Sunday morning before I go to church. I am looking forward to celebrating Jesus’s victory over death for us. Because he conquered the worst that can happen to us, death, we have hope in every situation.

He wants to share the power of his resurrection with us for eternal life and also for situations in our lives now. I remember when my father was in Alcoholics Anonymous. There is a line in their ‘Big Book’ that says, ‘there is one who has all power, may you find him now.’ Jesus is the one who has all power and he wants to set us free from problems in this life like addictions, broken relationships, eating disorders, and other problems. He came to give us life. He came to give us his resurrection power so we can be free from sin in our lives, to be freed up to forgive, to live healthier lives emotionally, mentally, and psychologically.

I have experienced myself how Jesus can help free us. He freed me from addiction 30 years ago. He freed me from the tangled web of mind games in my family. He freed me from death when I was dying 25 years ago, so I could serve him longer in this life. There are so many other examples from my life of how Jesus shared the power of his resurrection to help me. As I write this, I pray for those who will read this to experience the power of the resurrection in their lives, to receive his love, grace and mercy.

I would like to share this music video by Kristene DiMarco with you. My hope is it blesses you.

God Bless and Happy Easter- HE IS RISEN!!!

Good Friday and Easter Approaching

It is hard to believe Easter weekend is almost here. One week from today we will be observing Good Friday to remember the suffering and death of Jesus on our behalf followed by Easter Sunday as we celebrate Jesus defeating death for us.

This year I have been thinking a lot about what the authentic first Good Friday and Easter experience would have been like for those who lived it. Even some people who usually do not get much notice from the first Good Friday/Easter get my attention like Simon of Cyrene who was forced to carry the cross of Jesus or the Roman Centurion who said, “Truly this was the son of God.”

What thoughts would they have had? What feelings about the drama would they have had? Those are things that have been on my mind a lot this year.

So, next week my posts in this blog and also in my fictional short story blog encounterswiththeancients.com will focus on the people who lived through and experienced that first Passion of our Lord.

My prayer is to grow closer to Jesus as we go through the week we remember the Passion of Jesus.

Peter Before and After the Resurrection of Jesus- An Example of How God Never Gives Up On Us

Philippians 1:6, “He who began a good work in you, will complete it until the until the Day of Christ Jesus.”

I love this verse in the bible because I find so much encouragement in it. We tend to stumble and bumble along at times in this life trying to serve Jesus. The church is a family filled with imperfect people who can and will makes mistakes and misstep. We are full of human failings. However, God is faithful and He does not give up on us. He stays with us to help us grow and improve in our lives and walks with Him. Peter is an excellent example of how God does not give up on us even when we fail.

Peter denied knowing Jesus three times the night Jesus was arrested before the rooster crowed at sunrise just as Jesus had told Peter it would happen. All of the other disciples knew about Peter’s failure. It was perhaps the most humiliating time of Peter’s life. He had gone from the pinnacle of being one of the 3 closest to Jesus and favored to be part of the inner 3 to losing face in front of the others due to denying Jesus. How could Peter hope to regain his dignity and standing with the other disciples after denying Jesus?

One day after the resurrection of Jesus, Jesus waited for the disciples on the shore. Jesus had  breakfast with them. It was right after breakfast that Jesus asked Peter the same question three times. He asked Peter- “Do you love me?” and each time Peter answered yes. By asking Peter the same question three times, Peter was restored in the eyes of the others. Jesus did not give up on Peter. He continued His work in the heart of Peter and restored Peter. Each of the three times Jesus asked Peter the question, “Do you love me?”, Jesus then gave Peter the instructions, “Then feed my sheep.” Peter’s role of disciple/apostle was restored in front of the others.

When we mess up, God is always there, ready to help us start over again. We trust in the truth of Proverbs 24:16 that a righteous person falls seven times and gets back up. We can rest assured that even when we mess up, even with our worst mistakes, that God will help us get back up, dust ourselves off and start all over again. We can find comfort and encouragement from the example of Peter’s failure and fresh start.

Jesus’ Resurrection- The First to See Him Mary Magdalene

When I reflect on the resurrection of Jesus, Mary Magdalene always comes to mind. Though we do not know much about Mary Magdalene, the fact that the honor of being the first to see Jesus after His resurrection shows a lot about Jesus and us, about God and us.

There are various stories about Mary Magdalene. Some will say that she was a prostitute. The only thing that we know with certainty is that Jesus healed her of demonic possession. In Luke chapter 8 we see that Jesus delivered Mary of seven demons. We know that Mary Magdalene became a follower of Jesus after He healed her and that she was part of the group that was close to Jesus. She even spent time with Mary the Mother of Jesus.

We also know from John 19 that Mary Magdalene was one of the people who stood at the cross of Jesus and watched Him die. It was an intensely emotional time for her to see the man who rescued her and gave her a new life die on the cross. Then came the first Easter Sunday morning. She was emotionally distraught thinking that someone had moved the body of Jesus because when she came to the tomb, His body was gone, but His burial cloths were still there. She saw two angels who asked who she was looking for and after she tells them she is looking for her Lord’s body, she turns around. Jesus is standing in front of her and asks who she is looking for. Her eyes were filled with tears, she is distraught and can’t think straight. She doesn’t recognize Him at first and tells Him she is looking for her Lord’s body and to please tell her where it is. Then Jesus says her name. When Jesus says, “Mary”, the sound of His voice snaps her into the reality that the man she mistook for the gardener is Jesus. She cries out, “Rabonni” and hugs Him. He tells her He must ascend to the Father, but to go tell the group that He is risen.

It was no coincidence that Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene. There was never any coincidence in anything Jesus did while He was on earth. His every action and teaching had a purpose behind it. By appearing to Mary first, a woman who He had delivered of seven demons, a woman who was in the lowest part of society before she met Jesus, Jesus shows that God’s love is for all people no matter where they come from in life. God’s life changing power and forgiveness are for all people.

By telling Mary to got tell His followers, Jesus tells her to be a witness. He gives her an assignment that in that culture should have been for a man. Even today in some cultures the testimony of a woman in court does not count as much as a man’s. Jesus gives her an assignment to go tell, to go be His witness. This shows me that in Jesus all people are equally loved, valued, and that in Jesus all people are to be respected.